For all my positive spin about storytelling, there’s a dark side.

We tell ourselves stories about this craft and how it’s done, picking up themes from each other and from the magazines. Occasionally the story we concoct for ourselves goes off the rails in a big way.

Today I read a post that brought this home to me and wanted to share it. A gentleman posted on a popular forum that he’s almost ready to quit the hobby because he’s bogged down in the construction of a monster layout. This triple deck behemoth consists of 450 feet of mainline and its sole purpose is for timetable and train order operation. According to the author, TT&TO is non-negotiable, anything less won’t do. He’s adopted an all or nothing mindset and is beating himself up in public about his dislike of the boring nature the volume of work his out-sized expectations and design requires. The real kicker? He all but categorically states he doesn’t enjoy any of the building aspects involved with any size layout.

Lots of people are responding and offering the usual productivity solutions but no, none of that will do. He has a fixed vision of this layout: it has to be “just so.” Reading through the thread, he’s clearly painted himself into a blind corner with no way out. He’s set a new deadline for completing his mainline but is self-aware enough to know that he won’t adhere to it and the text of his post drips with the frustration he’s feeling.

We’ve all drunk the Kool-aide of this hobby.

The magazines overflow with big glossy photos of highly detailed monster-size layouts and the accompanying text reads like everything just fell into place without anyone breaking a sweat. It doesn’t work that way. The intensity of this person’s self-inflicted dilemma struck me as profoundly sad and, it truly is self-inflicted. Consider: he wants TT&TO ops and needs a large layout- that he doesn’t want to build. Room and layout aesthetics are important to him, but putting them in place is boring. He could receive help but, they won’t be able to do things “just so.” His rigid parameters and unwillingness to embrace the actual work involved is ultimately going to destroy any interest in this hobby for him. If Dante created a version of model railroad hell, I think this guy’s found it.

There is no such thing as a perfect layout. There are parts of the I&W I don’t like and haven’t from day one. Trevor has expressed similar views about his and so have others about their own efforts. This is a simple truth most people learn to deal with and move on from. To expect this hobby to bring long-lasting satisfaction based on a rigid set of conflicting desires is a recipe for massive disappointment. I’ve stated many times that this is a hobby of personal choice but, I have to wonder aloud why anyone would subject himself to such an unpleasant ordeal?